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4 Comprehensive Retail Solutions For Assessing Industry Trends

Image showing business trend lines

When it comes to spotting trends, retailers can benefit from a variety of comprehensive retail solutions to get an idea of what’s beyond the horizon.

Apparel retailers in particular can identify relevant trends impacting their industry and business operations by evaluating information in four ways.

  1. Analyze historical data: As the saying goes, you don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been. In retail, that means analyzing historical data as a key way to forecast trends.

    In the apparel industry, historical data can provide insight into what clothing styles or colors were selling best during a certain time period. For example, last spring, pastels were big sellers. This kind of data can be helpful for an apparel retailer that sells nursing scrubs. While the particular clothing style won’t change, the retailer may find it helpful to review the previous year’s color trend and stock products accordingly.

  2. Discuss trends with suppliers: Clothing suppliers should critically analyze what’s in style and what up-and-coming trend is expected to sell well. Retailers should then apply their own analysis. For instance, look at the current economy and decide whether shoppers are opting for trendy fashions or are leaning toward basics.
  3. Use benchmarks to compare store sale performance to industry forecasts: Let’s say apparel industry analysts predict that yellow is the hot color this season. This means you could expect to sell more yellow clothing items compared to last year. A benchmark system would monitor how that assumption pans out by tracking the number of yellow clothing items you sold and comparing it to the industry forecast.

    However, benchmarking your retail performance against industry forecasts often is subject to time restraints. For example, the holiday shopping season isn’t long enough to make adjustments based on sales predictions. Sale performance during that time will rely more heavily on your vendor and your replenishment cycle.

  4. Break down sales between online and in-store channels: If analysis of a particular product reveals that 60 percent of sales were online last year and 40 percent originated from brick-and-mortar stores, but those numbers were reversed the prior year, then you can easily pinpoint which channel is growing.

    How should this change the way you run your business? Start by examining how you stock your store versus your e-commerce website. You may need to decide whether to use store inventory to fill online orders or whether a separate warehouse is needed for that purpose.

    Online sales growth also places pressure on transforming your business into an omni-channel operation. This provides customers the convenience of ordering from various shopping channels. Just remember to ensure that products are priced the same no matter which channel they’re sold through.

    The same guidelines apply in advertising. In omni-channel retailing, rather than offering a discount for using a single channel — for example, a 10 percent discount when ordering online — most retailers are leaning toward offering the same discount regardless of which channel the customer chooses.

Identifying and analyzing industry trends can provide direction to help you grow your business. Innovative retail solutions can gather relevant information and help you assess the data as it relates to your unique situation.